Rhubarb muffins

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cup diced rhubarb
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda

topping:
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. melted butter

Beat together brown sugar, oil, egg, and vanilla until well blended. Stir in buttermilk, rhubarb, and nuts. Combine salt, flour, baking powder, and baking soda; add all at once to rhubarb mixture and stir until just mixed. Fill greased muffin pans 2/3 full. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over muffins. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes or until done. Makes 2 dozen.

Source unknown.

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Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Newsletters: 1 June, 2011

Excerpt from the Market Newsletter originally published on 1 June, 2011 (there were earlier ones, but this is the first to include non-market information and recipes). View the full newsletter for all the photos and links.

In the flesh
Raw rhubarb is a good source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, mandanese, and vitamins c and K. It is a traditional remedy for indigestion, and has been linked to lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It also has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties. Some claim that regular doses of rhubarb extract will diminish hot flashes.

Rhubarb is related to buckwheat, thrives in cold climates, and is native to western China, Tibet, Mongolia, and Siberia. Look for deep red stalks, which will be sweeter and richer, that have been pulled rather than cut; but whatever you do, don’t eat the leaves!

In the kitchen
There’s something about spring and beginnings that makes me want to play with historic recipes. Here are some comparatively recent ones I found in the historic cookbooks at the State Library (yes, they’re still open to the general public, at least for now…).

Rhubarb Conserve
1 lb. rhubarb, washed and sliced
2 c sugar
1/2 c raisins
Juice and grated peel of 1 lemon or 1/2 orange
Sprinkle rhubrab with sugar. Mix with remaining ingredients and let stand a half hour to draw the juice. Bring slowly to boiling and simmer until thick, about 1/2 hour. Let cool and seal.
From: 28 delicious ways to serve Sumner hot-house rhubarb. Sumner Rhubarb Growers Association, [1930]

Chili butter
1 Tbsp. chili sauce
2 Tbsp. butter
toast round
thin slice liver sausage
paprika
Mix chili sauce and butter. Spread on toast round, top with liver sausage, and sprinkle with paprika.
From: Yum-yum recipes. Compiled and pub. by the Tonasket Civic League, 1938.

Lettuce cocktail
1 crisp head lettuce, cut fine with scissors
4 Tbsp catsup
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
4 hard boiled eggs, shredded
4 Tbsp. vinegar
3 Tbsp. sugar
4 small onions, shredded
salt to taste
Mix lettuce, eggs, and onions. Melt butter and allow to cool; add catsup, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, vinegar, and salt. To serve, pour sauce mixture over lettuce mixture and chill in cocktail glasses.
From: Yum-yum recipes. Compiled and pub. by the Tonasket Civic League, 1938.

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Rhubarb

native to: Western China, Tibet, Mongolia, and Siberia
in season here: spring and summer

Rhubarb is a member of the Polygonaceae family, related to buckwheat, of all things. Once established, it can live up to 15 years, and is propagated by dividing the root (actually a rhizome). The stalks or petioles should be an inch or two thick before harvesting, which usually occurs in its second year. Stalks can be red or green, but the red ones are sweeter and more flavorful. The leaves contain poisonous glycosides and unhealthy amounts of oxalic acid; they should be removed upon harvesting so they don’t pull nutrients from the stalks.

Rhubarb improves digestion, skin, circulation, and metabolism, helps with weight loss, works to prevent Alzheimer’s, protects neurons, stimulates bone growth, and supports the cardiovascular system. It has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties. It is very low in calories and cholesterol, and contains dietary fiber, protein, vitamins C, K, and various Bs, calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and polyphenolic flavonoids.

Historically, rhubarb root was used as an emetic, and both dried rhubarb root and rhubarb itself are traditional laxatives. It was introduced to the US in the late 1700s, which is about when its culinary use began. Its popularity peaked in the 1930s, but dropped dramatically during WWII, probably because of sugar rationing.

Those with kidney problems, certain gastrointestinal concerns, cancer, or vascular issues are advised to avoid rhubarb, although rhubarb extract is being investigated as a treatment for kidney stones and renal failure.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for raw rhubarb
label-style nutrition information for cooked, sweetened rhubarb
Organic Facts
Zhion.com
a history of rhubarb from High Altitude Rhubarb

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Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Sweet-and-sour rhubarb sauce

1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 med. onion, finely chopped
2 cups thinly sliced rhubarb (about 12 oz.)
1/2 cup peeled, seeded tomatoes (fresh or canned), finely chopped
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp. sugar
large pinch ground allspice
1/2 tsp. lemon juice, or to taste
pepper

Heat the onion in olive oil over low, stirring occasionally, until softened but not brown (about 7 minutes). Stir in rhubarb, tomatoes, honey, sugar, and allspice. Simmer uncovered until reduced to a thick puree, stirring occasionally (about 20 minutes). Add lemon juice and adjust seasonings. Serve over chicken or fish.

Adapted from: From the farmers’ market : wonderful things to do with fresh-from-the-farm food with recipes and recollections from farm kitchens / Richard Sax with Sandra Gluck. Harper & Row, c1986; which says this recipe is of Sephardic origin.

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Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish.
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.